• Tony Birkhead

HOPE IN ACTION



Waiting Well can Lead to Worry or Worship!

Think about something you waited a long time to do, such as leave home, get married, have a baby, get your dream job or even waiting for Christmas morning. What was your greatest expectation for that event? Did the event live up to your expectation? Sometimes events in life greatly exceed our expectations, and other times they fail to live up to the hype in our mind. Simeon and Anna had lived in anticipation of God’s promised Messiah. Recognizing Jesus as the One through whom salvation would be made available to all people, Simeon offered praise to God. Following Simeon’s example, we should recognize and receive the salvation God offers in Jesus, and make praise to God for His salvation a prominent element of our lives.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS (Luke 2:22-26)

1. What is something you’ve had to wait for that seemed like it would never get here?

2. How does it make you feel to have to wait when you really want something or someone to arrive?

3. Based on the above verses, what was Simeon waiting for? What do you think “the consolation of Israel” means?

Simeon was “righteous”; that is, he kept God’s laws and the laws of his society, behaving well toward others. He also was “devout,” carefully fulfilling prescribed religious duties. The combination of the words “righteous” and “devout” stresses that he thoughtfully lived out his relationship with God. In addition, Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” This referred to the hope Israel had in regard to God’s plan for the nation. More specifically, it referred to the Messiah’s role in that plan. Simeon lived with the anticipation that God’s promised Deliverer could come at any time.

4. WHow did Simeon recognize Jesus?

What we learn from Simeon is that an intimate, personal relationship with God enables us to respond to God’s leading. Simeon was walking in a right relationship with God. He was anticipating the Messiah’s coming, which indicates he took God’s promises seriously. In addition, he was “moved by the Holy Spirit” (v. 27). Finally, Simeon was worshiping God in the temple. God used Simeon’s worship time to communicate Jesus’ identity and mission.

5.Often when we think of worship, we think of singing. What is your favorite worship song? If you have a chance, stop and listen to it now?

6. What does it mean that Jesus is “a light for revelation to the Gentiles”?

7. How might knowing that Jesus’ plan of redemption is for all people challenge us to invest in missions this Holiday season?

Having embraced God’s plan in their prayer, the believers now requested God to perform a great and visible work. They asked that God would consider the threats from their opposition, give them boldness in witnessing, and show miracles in answer to their prayer. God’s will might not remove us from difficult situations; but when we pray, God will strengthen us and make us more effective for Him in those situations.

8. Besides sharing our faith with others, in what situations might we act boldly for God?

MOVING FORWARD

Let’s identify how these verses can apply directly to our lives...

  • In what ways are you making praise to God for His salvation in Jesus a prominent part of your lifestyle? What could you do to make it more prominent.

  • Jesus is God’s salvation made available for all people. What is our church doing to help spread the news around the world? How can you help?

Close in prayer, praising God for the opportunity of salvation for all people, initiated by Jesus’ birth. Ask God to help us become more aware of opportunities to share His message of salvation with our world.

COMMENTARY

Luke 2:22-38

2:22-24. The “time for their purification” lasted another 33 days after the child’s circumcision (Lv 12:2-8). “To present Him to the Lord” was what was done with “every male who first opens the womb” in Israel (Ex 13:2,12).

2:25. Among the many people in Jerusalem at the time Joseph and Mary took Jesus was an exceptional, extraordinary man. Luke described Simeon in glowing terms. Simeon was “righteous”; that is, he kept God’s laws and the laws of his society, behaving well toward others. He also was “devout,” carefully fulfilling prescribed religious duties. Simeon was pious in the deepest and best sense of the word. The combination of the words “righteous” and “devout” stresses that he was conscientious in living out his relationship with God. In addition, Simeon was “waiting for the consolation of Israel.” This referred to the hope Israel had in regard to God’s plan for the nation. More specifically, it referred to the Messiah’s role in that plan. Simeon lived with the anticipation that God’s promised Deliverer could come at any time.

Significantly, the Holy Spirit was on Simeon continuously. This marked him as someone special and qualified him as a credible witness concerning Jesus’ messiahship. The truth for believers’ consideration today is that an intimate, personal relationship with God enables them to respond to God’s leading. Simeon represented genuine, godly piety among God’s people—the highest quality of Old Testament faith.

2:26. In some manner, the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would live to see the Lord’s Messiah. God honored Simeon’s fervent anticipation of seeing with his own eyes the long-awaited Deliverer. Some interpreters view the promise that Simeon “would not die before” the fulfillment of his hope as evidence he was elderly, but he may or may not have been old. Whatever Simeon’s age, he held fast to God’s promise to see God’s Anointed One. Simeon fervently believed Israel’s covenant God would make good on that promise. God would send His Deliverer.

2:27. The Spirit prompted Simeon to enter the temple complex. For the third time in three verses, Luke stressed the Holy Spirit’s activity in this incident in Jesus’ life. Behind the scenes, God was orchestrating His unfolding redemptive purpose. The words “temple” probably referred to the court of the women, an outer court of the temple beyond which women could not go. Jesus’ parents brought Him there to fulfill the law’s requirements. As was customary under the law, they consecrated their Son to God (see Ex. 13:2,12,15; Num. 3:13; 18:15-16; Deut. 21:15-17).

2:28. Under the Spirit’s leading, Simeon approached Joseph and Mary and reached out to receive the child and hold Him in his arms. Two often overlooked and surprising factors were involved in this exchange. First, Joseph and Mary were obviously poor, yet Simeon recognized the baby they held as the Messiah. Second, they allowed a stranger to hold their child. Remarkably, they evidently did not hesitate. As Simeon held the infant Jesus, he praised God. Literally, he “blessed God.” Our word “eulogy” comes from the Greek word that is translated by the ESV as “blessed.” Customarily, the Jews’ prayers of thanksgiving began with praising God and acknowledging His glory. As Simeon held Jesus, he prayed. His prayer is in the form of a beautiful hymn comparable to the finest Old Testament psalms.

2:29. Simeon acknowledged God as his Master. The words “letting your servant depart in peace” are a way of saying “let me die” (see Gen. 15:15). Nevertheless, this should not be seen so much as expressing a desire to die than as an affirmation that God had kept His promise to Simeon. “Now” emphasizes that Simeon was marking the precise point in time when God had done what He had promised to do. One senses that once Simeon saw Jesus, held the baby in his arms, praised Him, and knew that Jesus was the Savior of the world, Simeon’s life was fulfilled. Simeon has been described as a watchman who could leave his assigned post because that for which he had been watching had come.

2:30. Simeon understood that God’s salvation was not a goal to be achieved by great effort. His salvation was a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the man of faith looked at Jesus, he knew that his eyes beheld the salvation God had provided. To see Jesus was/is to see salvation.

2:31. God provided this salvation for all people, not just for the Jews. The humble birth of Jesus illustrates clearly that He came to provide salvation for any who would receive Him. All the people of the world could relate to a baby born in meager surroundings, but not all of them could have related to one born in wealth. Barriers such as class and race collapse in a stable. All the wealthy and prestigious as well as all of the poor and forgotten people of the world, regardless of infirmities or handicaps, can gather at the stable and identify with the Christ child born there.

2:32. Simeon clarified the inclusiveness of the redemption God made available in Jesus. Jesus is as a “light … to the Gentiles” (nations) and a “glory” to God’s “people Israel.” Jesus was the light who could dispel the spiritual and moral darkness of the Gentiles. Jesus was also the shining glory to Israel, fulfilling the revelation that already had been given to them. Certainly, one of the appropriate ways to observe Christmas is to praise God in prayer and song for the salvation He has so graciously provided for us in Jesus Christ.

2:33. After Joseph and Mary heard Simeon declare the praises of their Son, they “were amazed.” It was a natural reaction to God’s divine revelation. Simeon specified Jesus’ mission to both Gentiles and Jews, details lacking in the messages Mary and Joseph had received earlier. An angel had visited each of them separately before Jesus’ birth.

2:34-35. Then Simeon made a further pronouncement to Jesus’ mother Mary. Why just Mary? Perhaps Simeon had insight into Joseph’s death (as it is believed) before Jesus would begin His public ministry. Regardless, Simeon’s prophecy may have been troubling and startling to Mary. Her Son would be the source of national division, personal opposition, and her own pain. Jesus was destined to cause the fall and rise of many. This prophecy asserted two opposite reactions to Jesus. Division would result from His life and ministry as some would fall in judgment while others would rise in salvation. Simeon’s prophetic message made it clear that Jesus’ ministry would not be met with wholehearted acceptance from all of those He came to deliver. Some of Jesus’ own people would reject Him. This is made clear at the start of the gospel story, not part of a surprise ending. Jesus would cause division and opposition even as He went about bringing reconciliation, redemption, and salvation.

2:36-38. The immediate shift of focus from Simeon, a male who prophesied, to Anna, the prophetess, fits with Luke’s emphasis on women. The other prophetesses mentioned in the NT are Philip’s daughters (Ac 21:8-9). Anna had been married for seven years and a widow until she was 84. Besides being a prophetess, Anna’s other ministry included devotion to prayer. Since Jerusalem was the Jewish capital, “the redemption of Jerusalem” means the redemption of all the people of Israel.

#Hope #Action #worry #worship #anticipation

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